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Eco-Art Crafts Made by You

I like to find new ways to wrap gifts with some, if not all, reused materials. In August I found a wonderful idea for making gift boxes from cereal boxes (or shirt cardboard and poster board--whatever is at hand) in ReadyMade magazine, a quarterly do-it-yourself design magazine which combines how-to projects (relating to reuse) and feature stories relating to consumer culture.

Because the holidays are coming and we suddenly need boxes of all sizes at once, Anna Rosenlund, the designer, has updated her original pattern to provide more closure variations. The publisher has given us permission to reuse the idea, pictures and text with the hope that you will pass it on, too.

Finished size: 4-1/2" x 4-1/2" x 3/4"

Materials Needed:

  • Empty 15 oz. Corn Pops cereal box or any other box the same size.
  • Pencil
  • Scissors or craft knife
  • Triangle or ruler
  • Raffia (for closing-option 1)
  • White cotton string (for closing-option 2)
  • Indelible magic marker with wide nib in bright color (for closing-option 2)
  • Strip of used screen or soft wire mesh in the desired width. Old 1/2"-3/4" buttons (for closing-option 3) . A large dress snap (for closing-option 3)
Cut on Solid Lines and Fold on Dotted Lines.

Making a Custom Cardboard Box
  1. Unfold the cereal box, being careful not to tear it or cut a rectangle from the poster board to the desired size.

  2. Print out the template on this page and enlarge it on a copy machine 200% so that the marked sections match the template's measurements. Adjust the enlargement if the measurements are sigificantly different.

  3. Cut out the pattern with scissors or craft knife and trace the outline to the inside of the box.

  4. Cut out the pattern along the lines you traced using a straight edge and craft knife. Any dashed lines can be scored on the printed side of the cardboard to insure an easier and cleaner fold. A craft knife works best for scoring.

  5. Fold the printed side of the cardboard around the gift. You won't need any adhesive, as tension will hold the flaps in place.

  6. You may tie the box in several ways:
    • Raffia (Option 1)
    • White cotton string marked with magic marker at intervals to resemble a candy cane (Option 2)
    • Use strips of window screen or soft wire mesh. Use a snap to hold the mesh together. Push the male side of the snap through the mesh at one end of the strip and sew or glue into place. Then snap the female side in with the opposite end of the mesh sandwiched between.
    • Glue an old button or other bauble to the top of the snap. (Option 3)


Overlooked Gift Wraps
Consider using blueprints, sheet music, maps, wallpaper scraps, bubble wrap (seal with transparent tape), decorative napkins and placemats, graph paper (you can draw patterns on it), rice paper, children's drawings, and fabric scraps. When using thicker paper and fabric, use a glue gun instead of ordinary glue.

Results of an Informal Poll on Wrapping Choices

Use wrapping paper and ribbon saved from last year's gifts.
Steve Kane, Management Consultant

Cut a star or Christmas tree from a sponge, dip it in white paint and stamp on brown wrapping paper. Tie with mailing twine or bold ribbon. For gift tags, cut or tear an abstract shape from the back of a greeting card. Outline the edge with a gold pen (optional). Punch a hole in one end, slip in a piece embroidery floss and tie it to the package.
Julia E. Newhouse, Artist

Use colorful or interesting pages from Spanish or Chinese newspapers. Tie with ribbons left over from last year.
Corey Smigliani, Illustrator

Use newspaper with no ribbons.
Boris Bally, Metalsmith

I like to use the "wrong side" of brown paper bags because it is versatile. Brown wrapping paper works well too. Draw freehand patterns on it with felt tip pens, stencil designs over it with felt tip pens, stamp it with potato prints, cut out flower heads or vegetables from old catalogs and glue them on the top of a wrapped box (also scatter some on the sides if you have enough). Write the person's name freehand or use a stencil.
Reena Kazmann, Designer

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